Sometimes Homeland seems overly outlandish ... and then real life happens.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's uncle and former right-hand man, Jang Song-thae, has been executed, according to an announcement from state-controlled news agency KCNA. He was removed from office earlier this month over what were later reported to be allegations of mismanaging the country's financial system, corruption, and leading a "dissolute" life of drugs, drinking, and womanizing. According to the KCNA statement released today, a "special military tribunal" decided to have Jang (who was married to Kim Jong-il's sister, Kim Kyong-hui) killed after determining that he had plotted to overthrow his nephew's government.
Buried in the middle of Gail Collins's column about the Republican Party's new effort to teach its congressmen how to talk to women is this weird tidbit about Paul Ryan's working relationship with New York Representative Nita Lowey, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee:
One of the more amusing developments in the Obamacare debate has been watching conservatives turn from denouncing the health-care law for its lack of high-deductible insurance to denouncing the health-care law for its high-deductible insurance. I wrote a bit about it a week ago, and Ezra Klein describes it in much more detail today. Insurance plans with low premiums and high deductibles were a major centerpiece of conservative health-care thinking. Until quite recently, conservatives seemed to believe that Obamacare prevented such plans from existing, which was totally false. As they’ve come into existence, conservatives have transitioned seamlessly into denouncing these plans for their horrible, high deductibles.
Winter Storm Electra — the Weather Channel gives every snow flurry an official storm name now — will hit New York on Saturday and Sunday, bringing a total of three to five inches of snow and sleet and falling mushy whatever. So there go your mid-December picnic plans. You really have to ask yourself why you planned a picnic for the middle of December anyway, though.
The New York Post reports that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia will shed "about 25 percent of its 400 person workforce" on Thursday. Most of the bad news is said to be headed for the company's big magazine, Martha Stewart Living. One staffer told AdWeek that, unsurprisingly, the mood in the office is "really awful," and added, "It’s really scary and terrible right before the holidays." This news comes just a month after MSLO announced that it had found a new CEO, Daniel Dienst, to manage a strategy of "renewed growth" there.
Politico magazine has a big piece out today about the financial industry's dissatisfaction with the Obama administration's cold embrace, and its hopes that a Hillary Clinton administration would "lead us out of the wilderness" and give industry titans better access to cabinet members and high-ranking administration officials. They're hoping this in spite of the fact that Clinton's Wall Street ties constitute perhaps her greatest political vulnerability, and might need to be put on the back burner when she actually starts running.
Matt Yglesias is confused by the article's core theme – that "Wall Street seems to want low taxes and light regulation and bailouts and they want political leaders to thank them for it" – and that Wall Street CEOs expect more influence in Washington than, say, pizza-company CEOs. But the industry's nostalgia for the Clinton years, and its hopes for another Clinton in office, are actually fairly simple to explain.
An average of 49 people a year have died on the subway tracks in New York City since 2001. Some of them jumped, while others fell — either owing to a medical condition, drunkenness, or some other impairment — and still others were pushed by crazy homeless people. In response to these regularly occurring deaths, the MTA's safety plan has essentially been tantamount to "Well, hopefully you don't fall or get pushed onto the tracks by a crazy homeless person. Good luck."
It's been over two days since President Obama shocked and amused people across America by taking a Nelson Mandela memorial-service selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a towheaded female person who also happens to be the Prime Minister of Denmark. At this point, it seems clear that Michelle Obama was not angry at her husband for participating in the photo-taking session, but generally disapproving and highly imaginative New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser sure is. In the headline for today's dispatch, Peyser (who apparently has returned from her leave of absence from the paper) insists, "Flirty Obama owes us an apology." Peyser gets much crazier from there, as only she can.
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